The Nativity of Mary, Giotto die Bondone 1305
September 8th is celebrated by many Christian Sects as the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. The history of this festival is quite profound, especially during these very tense days (which will hopefully not result in) leading to a bombing strike against Syria. The feast may have originated somewhere in Syria or Palestine in the beginning of the sixth century. After the Council of Ephesus, which met in June and July of 431 AD, in of all places The Church of Mary, where the proclamation that Mary was the title Theotokos or "birth giver of God," originated, the cult of the Mother of God gained momentum, especially in Syria.
Ruins of The Church of Mary, in Ephesus which is in modern Turkey
Different sects celebrate on different days, but the Roman Catholic calendar recognizes the date as September 8th. St. Fulbert, Bishop of Chartres; (952-970 –1028) was Bishop from 1006 till 1028. He was a teacher at the Cathedral School at Chartres, and he was responsible for the advancement of the celebration of the Feast day of “Nativity of the Virgin." Fulbert was responsible for one of the many reconstructions of the Cathedral, most notably the magnificent structure we see today which is a shrine to Mary, Wisdom, Birth and the spiritual capacity of the human.
Notre Dame de Chartres, France
Most of the information we have about Bishop Fulbert is found in the letters he wrote from 1004–1028, to both secular and religious figures of the day. He speaks of the Festival of the Nativity of Mary as of recent institution. The three sermons he wrote are the oldest genuine Latin sermons for this festival.
In my never to humble opinion, Chartres Cathedral is home to three Black Madonna's. Two are statues:
The Black Madonna Sous Terre, (above) and the The Black Madonna de Pillar (below)
But for today, I want to focus on what I consider to be the third Black Madonna of Chartres, which is found above the North Portal of Chartres, in the panels under the North Rose Window.
Under the Rose window, there are five panels, featuring the pillars of the prophets and kings that lead up to the Incarnation of the Christ which is featured as Mary and the infant Jesus in the center of the Rose. The center panel beneath the Rose Window is that of St. Anne with the infant Mary, Mother of God.
A closer look reveals why I consider this a Black Madonna
One of the major themes of my book, which will be available in November of 2013, is looking at the spiritual meaning behind the Black Madonna's. A recurring theme in the Black Madonna's is the large size of their hands, as well as their dark brown or black appearance. Many theories abound as to why they are black, but I feel that they are black for a major reason: Black is the color of Cosmic Will. Black is the color of Cosmic will transforming into Human Will and Movement. It is interesting that the combination of Black and large hands are prevalent in these Madonna's, because hands are the agents of human will. I think the symbolism is that we are to carry out Cosmic Will with our will, our hands. The Black Madonna's, particularly in this window, show that human participation is needed, in this mystical task of the Divine world upon the Earth.
Mary the Mother of God, has so many meanings and purposes for humanity. In one aspect, she was the first person to say yes to bringing the Christ impulse to Earth. When Gabriel announces that she will help birth the Christ Child, first questions her ability to do so, and then says to Gabriel and ultimately God " I am the Lord's servant, may your word be fulfilled in me" Luke 1:38.
The Rose Window shows the elaborate plan laid out by the Divine to create the Incarnation of the Christ. Mary was the chalice for this Incarnation, the bringing forth of the Work, the Divine Logos of God, and the Window shows the Cosmic Wisdom that brought this about in elaborate detail. The symbolism from every aspect of the Sacred Geometry that is involved in the North Rose Window shows the Divine Revelation that Art presents as a vehicle for the communication of the Spiritual World with humanity. In essence, the Window shows that Mary is the first human to combine her will with that of the Divine to birth the Christ on Earth. I think it is no accident that St Anne is portrayed as a Black Madonna, as the one who also participated in this Divine revelation, as bringing her wisdom and nurturing to raise the Mother of God.
There are many prayers going out to the Universe on this Feast of the Nativity of Mary, for peace in the Middle East, particularly Syria, where so long ago, this ancient festival was first celebrated. There were 100,000 people praying in Rome on the eve of this Nativity celebration, with gatherings across the globe to focus love, kindness and non-violence towards those who would do harm to anyone. May the Word of God be fulfilled in use to love our neighbor, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked and house the homeless, just as Mary said Yes, let us do so likewise. May we use our wills to align with the Cosmic will for Justice, to bring a cosmos of love on earth.